Helping Your Grieving Parent
Updated: Dec 17, 2018
Losing a loved one is never easy, especially when it is one of your parents. How can you comfort your surviving parent while dealing with your own grief? It is good to remember that everyone grieves differently and that losing a spouse is different than losing a parent. Do not assume that you know exactly how your parent feels. Try to be understanding and patient by listening to your parent and encouraging him to talk about his loved one. Help attend to your parent’s physical needs and make sure he gets the care he needs.
It may be difficult to do these things as you deal with your own loss. You may feel frustrated as you try to help your parent move on with his life. Or perhaps you are struggling to let go and resent your parent for giving away clothes or other memorabilia. In either situation, tensions can arise and drive you apart at a time when comfort and support is needed most. Here are some tips to handle this situation as successfully as possible:
Take care of your physical health. Make sure you and your parent get plenty of rest, eat nutritious meals, and exercise regularly. Taking care of the body’s physical needs and staying healthy will help your body handle the emotional stress better. Because grief is stressful, it can impair the immune system, resulting in more colds or lingering illnesses. Keep an eye on your parent’s health and make sure his doctor knows about his bereavement.
Be patient and understanding. Grief will diminish with time but could take a year or more. Even though it may have diminished, your parent will have good days and bad days. Your parent may hear a song, see a picture, or find a note that resurfaces his grief all over again. Emotions often resurface at holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries. Try to remember these important dates and acknowledge how your parent feels at these times. He might want to do something special to honor his loved or prefer to do nothing at all. In some cases, grief is delayed and does not surface until some time after the death. Whatever the situation, being patient and understanding will be the best way to lovingly help your parent.
Know the signs of grief. The initial months after your parent’s death may not be the best time for your surviving parent to make important decisions or start new projects. Often times, grief can cause a person to be forgetful and disorganized. You might suggest that your parent write down reminders so as not to forget, or you might help him plan a schedule to get the daily necessities taken care of. It might be difficult for your parent to concentrate so warn him to be careful when driving or operating dangerous equipment. Your parent might suffer from a lack of motivation or interest in doing things. Let your parent express himself and offer love and support. If you think your parent might hurt himself or that he is using alcohol or drugs to deal with his grief, get professional help immediately.
Take care of yourself. You may have to take on more responsibility in caring for your surviving parent or helping with paperwork. Remember to take time for your own grief. Talk with close friends or family members about your grief and your needs. Express your feelings and encourage your parent to do the same; you may feel better sharing tears and feelings with your parent rather than alone. If your emotions are overwhelming, you might seek professional help.
In such an emotionally difficult time, it can be challenging to take care of the paperwork side of the death. You may be overseeing the funeral arrangements or your deceased parent’s estate. Our attorneys understand that losing a loved one is a difficult process. We can help guide you through and demystify the administration process.